Cricket Club, early history, Chapter 1
The Founders of Wickford Cricket Club
The centenary handbook (1) states that the Club was established in 1887 and the “founders of the Club were Richard Weston (Dick) Patmore, Robert (Bob) True and Seth Franklin, plus three others whose names seem to have been forgotten”. Further research has now possible given some indication as to the likely identity of the forgotten three. In those early years there were close ties with the local parish church of St. Catherine’s and reports on Club matches and associated activities such as musical evenings and fund raising events were featured regularly in the monthly parish magazine. This magazine commenced publication in 1888 and appears to coincide with the arrival of the Reverend George Porter who became Rector of St. Catherine’s on the death in that year of the Reverend John Morley Trueman. The Reverend George Porter, besides playing regularly was to become the President of the Club and it is perhaps no coincidence that it is only throughout the years of his incumbency as rector (1999-1897) that the magazine regularly included a mention of the Club.
The March issue of 1889 reports that at the Annual Meeting held at the Castle Inn on Monday 4th March, the Committee for the forthcoming season would be “The Rev. G. Porter, President of the Club, and Messrs. F. Wendon (Captain), F. Spalding (Sub-Captain), John Carter (Treasurer), R. Patmore (Secretary), R. True, and S. Franklin”. We note that three of the above mentioned co-founders are named and it is conjecture that for the initial few years of the Club’s existence it would have been natural for this small band of co-founders to comprise the requisite organising committee. Of the remaining four, the Reverend George Porter could not possibly be considered as a co-founder since in 1887 he was still the Rector of Farnham, near Stansted Mountfichet. Although circumstantial this could suggest that the remaining trio could be the “forgotten three” i.e. Fenton Bull Wendon, Francis Spalding and John Carter. It will be noted that Wendon and Spalding, along with Patmore and Franklin also appear on the scorecard of the Club’s first recorded match which took place at East Hanningfield on the 30th May, 1887.
Census returns and registration of births enable us to establish the following basic facts about the members of this committee:-
Fenton Bull Wendon b.1860 Wickford son of Mathias & Hannah Wendon
John Carter b.1866, Wickford, son of Samuel |& Susan Carter
(A possible alternative is b.1871, Wickford, son of John & Anna Carter
Seth Franklin b.1869, Wickford son of Henry and Eliza Franklin
Robert True b. 1864, Market Deeping, Lincolnshire, son of Rachel True.
Francis Spalding b. 1865, Great Waltham, son of Thomas and Jane Spalding
Richard Weston Patmore b. 1870, Luton Bedfordshire, son of George Hellen & Mary Ann Patmore
Extracts from the 1881 census (3rd April) show:-
Fenton Bull Wendon age 20, unmarried, harness maker, residing with his grandmother Hanna Wendon at Wickford.
John Carter, age 14, unmarried, scholar, residing with his parents at Wickford.
Seth Franklin, age 11, unmarried agricultural labourer, residing with his parents, at Wickford.
Robert True, age 17, unmarried, farm labourer, residing with his parents at Great Waltham.
Richard Weston Patmore, age 10, unmarried, scholar, residing with his parents, Luton, Bedfordshire
Ten years later the 1891 census (5th April) shows that by then all were resident at Wickford except F.Wendon who was at nearby Rayleigh:-
Fenton Bull Wendon age 30, unmarried, shop assistant, residing with his uncle at Rayleigh.
Robert True, age 27, unmarried, baker’s assistant (employed by George H. Patmore).
John Carter, age 24, married, carpenter, (Wife Hannah and two daughters.)
Seth Franklin, age 21, unmarried, butcher’s assistant (in his father’s shop), residing with his parents.
Richard Patmore, age 20, unmarried, grocer’s assistant (In his father’s combined grocery, drapery and bakery shop in the high street).
The 1891 census (2) also shows that the population of the entire parish of Wickford comprised just 501 inhabitants of which some 257 were male. The November 1888 parish magazine, besides giving the results of the six matches played that year, also mentions Ernest Patmore as achieving the highest batting average. Ernest was Richard Patmore’s brother, being fifteen years of age in 1888. If we consider this age as being about the minimum and fifty years as being a typical upper age limit for playing cricket, then out of the 257 male inhabitants there would have been about 175 men as a source of potential cricketers. Not all resided within the village itself and even if the immediately adjacent populated parts of the parishes of Runwell and Downham were included this would only swell the figure to about 200. With such a small number in the locality, let alone having the time, desire or pretensions of ability at playing the game, the founders must have had a considerable amount of faith and optimism when taking the decision to form a cricket club.
What is also remarkable is how relatively young theses six co-founders would have been in 1887. Was it this youthful spirit and enthusiasm that enabled them to dismiss the difficulties and embark on the undertaking of the not inconsiderable task of forming a cricket club? But form a club they did, and the members of today are the recipients of their faith and foresight especially in respect of the ground that they must have been instrumental in establishing.
For that era we tend to think only of adult cricket and consider that the playing of organised junior cricket (outside that of the schools) to be a relatively new innovation. Not so, for the parish magazine of November 1888 mentions the results of the Boys’ C.C.(9) Later this is referred to as the Junior C.C. and on |March 27th, 1893 a “plan of affiliating to the club, a junior division for boys under the age of eighteen with certain rules and regulations” was formally adopted with F. Souden being the Junior Captain and W.J. Welham as deputy. What is more the juniors had their own separate ground – that this was the case follows from the May 1889 report that “The Wickford and the Junior C.C. played their opening games on Easter Monday” References are made to this ground being at The Rectory.
(2) 1891 census, RG 12/1383 Essex Records Office
(9) “Wickford Parish Magazine , 1888-1898 (in private hands)